By Stefanie Jackson – The Navy Jr. Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program could come to Accomack County Public Schools by fall 2023, bringing with it opportunities for students to learn, earn community service hours, and participate in a variety of extracurricular activities.
Retired Navy Capt. Jim Daniels briefed the school board on the NJROTC program and its counterpart, the Navy National Defense Cadet Corps.
He said programs are not for recruitment but to help students become responsible citizens with a sense of accomplishment, self-discipline, respect for authority, community service experience, and leadership skills.
Students can participate in academic, athletic, STEM, and Color Guard events.
Students also can compete in drills, athletics, and academics at the Navy Nationals.
Starting an NJROTC requires participation of at least 10% of a school’s population or 100 students, but an NNDCC requires only 50 students.
Director of Secondary Education Karen Taylor said Accomack would start an NNDCC as a regional program, and it likely would be based at Arcadia High School.
The NNDCC includes its own curriculum and would be part of the Accomack schools career and technical education program as a four-part course called naval science, which participating students would take every year of high school.
Students would be provided bus transportation to the host school as they would be for other CTE classes.
The NNDCC program is a class and an extracurricular activity in one and gives students college scholarship opportunities without committing to enlisting in the military.
Of all students who participate in the Navy Jr. ROTC program, more than 50% enter military service after graduation and nearly 60% pursue continuing education.
More than 40% of participants are female, 30% are Hispanic, and nearly 25% are Black, bringing diversity to the group.
The suspension rate for NJROTC cadets is about 6%, compared to more than 13% of all students at the host schools. The cadets’ dropout rate is 0.64%, compared to nearly 2% of their peers.
Cadets also have better attendance records and higher GPAs than other students.
Taylor said the program startup costs, such as the cost of uniforms, would be covered by CTE and at-risk funding (for students at risk of failure due to factors such as poverty). The school division would be responsible to pay the instructor of the naval science course.